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New look, rules for 'So You Think You Can Dance'

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Nino Munoz/FOX

Prepare to dance for joy when So You Think You Can Dance returns this summer, because the Fox reality series will feature new rules to go along with its new but familiar faces. In case you missed the news: Mary Murphy and her Hot Tamale Train are out, and longtime American Idol judge Paula Abdul and singer/dancer Jason Derulo are in. 

“Well, Paula Abdul, as soon as I created So You Think You Can Dance I thought, ‘This show is far better for you to judge than anything else!’ I mean, not only was she a great dancer, she was a wonderful choreographer and got so many stars to dance,” said executive producer Nigel Lythgoe at the series’ open call auditions in New York City Jan. 25.

Jason Derulo, who has previously guest judged and performed, will bring his hip hop (and wiggle) expertise to the panel. “I made it a point to myself that I would try to find the positive in everybody and also give them the constructive criticism that they need to grow,” he told EW. 

But this show has never been afraid of change. In previous years, we’ve seen partner swaps, All-Star mentors, and the elimination of a separate results show. Now the dancers will be split up into new categories: street and stage. Each week, one dancer from each group will be eliminated until a winner is crowned.

And for Vegas Week, this means no more ballroom dancers struggling through hip hop routines, or vice-versa. Producers have listened to the agonized groaning of viewers who watched their favorite dancer go home early because their free-flowing street style clashed with the demanding control of that one contemporary routine. 

Stage dancers will compete against each other in styles such as contemporary, jazz and Broadway, while street dancers will be put to the test in animation, popping and more. Once the season’s top 20 is set—10 stage dancers and 10 street dancers—it will be a free-for-all, as both will be tested in all forms of dance. As Lythgoe explained, “Once they hit that top 20, they are going to have to be prepared to do lots of other styles and lots of other things. So we’re gonna see a lot of people fail.” Hey, that’s showbiz for you.

Auditions began Jan. 24 in New York and continue Feb. 14 in Dallas, TX; Feb. 22 in Detroit, MI; March 8 in Memphis, TN; and March 15 in Los Angeles, CA.

But make sure you have that special something if you want to make it to the next round. As new judge Abdul said, “I want unique ability. I wanna be blown away, because even as a choreographer I’ve witnessed incredible technicians. And with this show, you’ve seen the level of talent is so high. So now I wanna see what’s next, that’s gonna [make me] go ‘Oh my God!'”

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